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tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  March 2, 2014 4:16pm-4:46pm EST

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booktv guests and viewer, watch videos and up do date information on events, facebook.com/booktv. >> ain'tie jacobsen is next on booktv. recounting the u.s. government's clandestine program to employ german scientists following world war ii. the program, dubbed "operation paperclip" brought several scientists to the united states despites the fact many were accused of war crimes. this is a little under an hour. >> thank you so much. good evening everybody. i am ain'tie jacobsen. i want to thank book passage for having me. thank you all so much for coming. there's nothing that makes this author happier than meeting readers, so thank you. tonight i'm going to be talking
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about operation paper clip and i'm going to tell you about what the program was. i'm going to tell you a little bit about how i became interested in writing and researching and reporting pacing paper clip, and then i'm going to end by telling you some very -- what think are interesting ways in which the story gets reported. to start with, my book, these gentlemen are 21 of approximately 1600 german scientists who came to america to work for the u.s. military and intelligence agencies of the war. i focus on these men because i found them to be particularly unique and interesting, and somewhat nefarious. on varying degrees. and i think it's important to also realize that whenever you're reporting a story like
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this, it's about writing on the -- riding on the heels of many important journalists and historians who have come before. so while i do bring lots of new information to the table, academics, also have been involved in unearthing this story over the decades, but i think now there's really a light cast on operation paperclip that has not been shown before. the story for me began when i was reporting this book, "area o nazi aircraft designers, named walter and rymer horton. and they were working on this aircraft, which looks like the b2 bomber, so you can immediately see that hitler's weapons were very interesting to the allies during the war and immediately after. i found out when i was researching the horton brothers, he had a boss, and he worked for
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herman gehrig. and in between the horton brothers and gehrig was goring, and this sigfreidy and he was one of the top ten pilots and flew on spy missions over norway to decide which is the best place to bomb. and he was also on incredibly talented engineer so as he rows through the ranks he caught the addition of goring, who made him chief of all technical and engineering development. and goring felt he was so important, he called him, my boy. now, i found out when i was researching him, that he came to the united states and worked
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under this program, which i at the time did not know anything about, called "operation paperclip." and i thought to myself, how does this work? how too you go from having goring as a boss to having the pentagon as a boss? and not only that, when he retired in the middle 1970s. he was given the garnished civilian service award, the highest award the department of defense can give to a nonunformed person. so, "operation paperclip." to understand, you really must go back to the fall of 1944, and it was a very dark time. this is a map from william shyer's rise and fall of the third rescue -- reich, and we're
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pushing toward berlin, and among the soldiers are scientists with the u.s. military, and they're part of a secret mission called "operation alsos" and the mission was find a, b, c, weapons, atomic, biological, and chemical weapons, and the real threat at the time was atomic weapons. but very quickly samuel goodsman, the head of the operation, a party -- a particle physicist, the learned, sitting in the abandoned apartment of one of the scientists in november of 1944, that the atomic program was nothing that we thought it was. and the reason was, because, as hitler told his minister of armaments, atomic science is jewish science so let's not concentrate on that. i'm paraphrasing but you get the idea.
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hitler was interested in biological weapons and what goosman learned was reich was experimenting with these weapons on humans that had been culled from concentration camps, and this was the first time that this information became available to american military intelligence. the director, samuel goodsman, came across this man in a letter, and this is dr. kurt blama. the deputy director of the third reich. it's hard to imagine he became part of prognosis paperclip, and the at the time goodsman found out the information he would not have believed that and he later wrote in this memoirs we do not believe that. also in the documents that
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goodsman came across what decider walter some ryaner, surgeon general of the third reich, became part of paperclip and would wind up living in texas. dr. schieber was in charge of the vaccine program for the reich so while blome was heading up the biological weapons division, the reich was trying to create a bubonic plague weapon, and they nude they needed to create a vaccine against such a weapon because were they to unleash this, their own soldiers would be subject to this kind of biological agent if they didn't have a vaccine. so, schreiber was in charge of the vaccine program, and to do that he was working with concentration camp inmates. so, here we have spear -- come
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up later -- and hitler in paris, and this is goring, held the the luftwaffe, and head of all science for the their reich under an umbrella program called the reich research council. and the third part of this triangle, which plays into operation paperclip, is heinrich himler, and he is in charge of this vast network of state-sponsored slavery which has been reinstituted, and the slaves are used to build weapons for the reich. at the same time it becomes apparent that the their reich is crumbling, and so stashes begin to happen, and these are -- this is a very famous photograph of a huge trove of money that was found in a cave, but also other
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across the third reich, military intelligence officers begin stashing weaponry and, more importantly, documents related to how the weapons are built. so, suddenly they're on the move and they're looking for weapons, they're looking for documents, and they're looking for scientists. if you see this little innocuous looking tunnel, that's an example of one of the slave labor facilities that the slaves that himmler was organizing and shipping off to the various scientific and weapon we departments. this is nordhouse. the is where the v2 rockets are being built, and if you see here on the bottom here, this is inside of that cave, an entire train could go in and they -- as i write in the book, rocket
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parts would go in, and full rockets and bodies would come out, because the laborers were worked to death. so, the scientists are rounded up and sent here. now the war is at its end. so, we're now moving into may of 1945. and the military is in charge of this castle and it's called, dust bin as a nickname, and the scientists are set up there and begin to be interrogated. and when i went to germany, and i went through a lot of the different archives, i was fascinating reading some of these original transcripts of these scientists, and these are sort of 70-page documents which show in a very subtle way, how this program began. so you have these military intelligence officers learning about hitler's nerve agent
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program, and the biological weapons program we did not know about. interviewing the scientists and trying to find out all that we can, but also, you see decisions being made, and that real decision comes down to this. should this scientist be hanged or should this scientist be hired? this here is castle cranberg. very interesting. the scientists were walking round here. spear in the garden walking around. you had carl brandt, hitler's physician. and all the while they're going in and out of these little rooms and being interrogated by these different american military officers. underneath the castle -- this is one of goringing's loft wave, ad
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under the castle was the bunker which is where hoyt hitler plant to go in the event the reich decided to use sarin gas, and nerve agents, and why that nerve agent was never used remains one of the great mysteries of the war. we, allied intelligence, discovered these giant bunkers filled with bombs, ready to be loaded on to luftwaffe planes that contained sarin gas, but hitler never gave the order but this bunker was designed for him in the event he did give the order, this where is they would hang out. it was this great mysterious irony this is where the scientists were held who invented these nerve agents. these are some of the guys who were in castle cranberg, and we'll get to their stories in a moment. meanwhile, you've got something
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else going on at nordhawse, which is the rockets, and the officers are realizing the incredible breadth and scope of the rockets, the v-2 rockets that were there, and they had orders to gather a hundred of these rockets rockets and to brm back to the united states so they could be launched out in new mexico, but then suddenly they come across not only the rockets, plural, but they come across the scientists, and this is von braun right after his -- actually he wasn't captured. he surrendered. he knew how important he would likely be to allied intelligence, and he was wright. and also with von braun, who has been left out of the story, is general dohrnberger, he became an american hero, and you see him in his leather coat which he liked to wear because the ss wore that same coat. he was von braun's boss and
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later became one of the most important players in paperclip. he recruited for the pentagon. he would fly back and forking to germany, looking for more german scientists. he had a top secret clearance into the middle '50s and was a favorite in the washington inner circles. when i started reporting the program, this is one of the only photographs i could really find of the rocket scientists. and then there you have -- just so you can get an idea how quickly we brought this rockets over and the scientists, and it there is, just a couple years after the war, the first -- the rocket v-2 rocket carrying albert, the first monkey, astronaut, albert didn't survive. back to the chemical weapons. so that sarin gas i was speaking of, this is dr. otto ambrose,
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and i think one of the more nefarious elements of operation paperclip -- i'm not going to tell you all the narratives in the book but i'll tell you one about dr. ambrose. the reason why i think his story is just so horrific is that ambrose was hitler's favorite checkis, chemist, and i say that literally. the invented the sarin gas and also invented synthetic rubber which was important because air craft need wheels and the synthetic rubber was so important to hitler he awarded ambrose here a 1 million reichmark bonus. a document i found in the national archives, which had never been written about before. that is how important ambrose was. and further, the reich was building synthetic robber as auschwitz.
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so this here is a satellite photo from 1944, june, and you have auschwitz,, and the gas champbers, and in the lower corner you have a slave labor facility run by the chemical company that was making sin tet sick rubber, and otto ambrose, who would become part of paperclip, was in charge of that facility. of all the photographs that i came upon in researching this book -- and we all know those horrific photographs of the bodies, nothing disturbed me more than this photograph, and that's because of what it says. it says: company sporting club ig auschwitz, up top and those or two of otto ambrose's colleagues fencing as they would in the evening after a long day of what they thought was hard work at the laboratory there at
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auschwitz. but as i learned from colleagues, academics at the institute who gave me permission to republish this photograph, this is well within the view of the chimneys of auschwitz. so, blomo is captured and cooperates with allied intelligence. the first high-ranking member of hitler's inner circumstance whole speaks speaks of acrosstis sterilization and gassing of jews and becomes a key player in the story because he is the first person who cooperated. but at the same time you have colonel harry armstrong, top physician for what was then called the army air force, later the u.s. air force, and armstrong was on a mission in
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berlin, looking for nazi doctors. he called them german physicians. and for many years the idea, the fiction, was that they were german physicians. really i and others before me have put together the very clear picture of what most of these men were doing during the war. and you'd see them here, this photograph has never been printed before. this is 34 of the top leading physicians who worked in a classified program, one of the very first programs that was part of operation paperclip, inside germany in heidelberg, starting days after the war ended, because the army air force new that to bring these men to the united states so quickly would never fly, and so they had them working there in heidelberg. later, 34 of them would join
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harry armstrong at a facility in texas. the hugo -- we'll get to him in a moment. in the meanwhile, as all the doctors i just showed you the photograph of, were working at heidelberg, another area of military intelligence came knocking and they had information that six of these doctors were wanted for war crimes, and so six of them went off to nuremberg. these three would become part of paperclip, some before, some after. this is dr. theodore benzigger. he was taken to nuremberg. what i was so really startled by was when i first read about benzin re, i read his obituary in the "new york times" in 1999, and it spoke -- it lauded his
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career for naval intelligence. he was a physiologist for the navy, and it talked about how he invented the ear thermometer and what great contributions he had given to military medicine but never mentioned his wartime work, and what i found in berlin were documents that showed that benzinger was on the original list of criminals that were going to be tried at the nazi -- at the doctors trial at nuremberg but he was mysteriously released a few weeks before the trialed, turn over to custody of the u.s. army air force and he was brought to america. that's the nazi doctors trial. you see blome in the middle. he was acquitted and would later work for paperclip. dr. beagle. i write about him at length in the book. and one of the only surviving
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witnesses to the -- what went on in the concentration camps, amazing story in the book. it's amazing how these little nuggets are lost to history. when i was reading the trial transcript i discovered when hollenrainer was put on the witness stand because he livers was removed without anesthesia, they were trying to test how long someone could survive in the ocean, downed pilot, and how much sea water you do drink so they were simulating these tests, written with the other doctors who would later comp to texas. but hollenreturner was so angry, head had a dagger in his pocket and he leapt off the witness stand and ran to the dock to try stab the doctor. this incredible moment. i couldn't believe. i'd never heard of this before. and then the great tragedy was
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the judge, the american judge, who really believed firmly that we were at nuremberg to show how democracy worked, put hollen ranker in the prison with the very dares who had done this to -- the very doctors who had done this to him. >> this man was the father of space medicine and there he is with the library that was named after him, which was ultimately taken down. you know, the program went all the way up to the pentagon, and the joint chiefs of staff were in charge of the program, and when you -- when i would read over some of these documents, it was fascinating how you could really see the difference, you could see some of the military generals who were reporting to the joint chiefs, were just tamed at having to bring these individuals here to the united states -- pained at having to bring these individuals their to the tattoo to work our weapons
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program, and it was shocking to me that some of the generals did not feel that way at all. they actually respected and admired some of the nazi scientists, and i was surprised to find that this was one of them, general lukes in charge of the chemical corps, and i don't say this lightly. it's very important one has as a gorgeousist the documents to -- gorgeousist the documents to back this us. the nerve agent program is still largely classified but i traveled to the u.s. army military history institute in pennsylvania to look at general lucas papers and there i found these personal diaries he wrote which told much of the story which i report in paperclip. >> there you sue lukes at a party he was having and it was in those papers i discovered the ss brigade schieber never known
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to be part of operation paperclip but he was. he was so close to himmler. he was on himmlers percentage staff. you can see that little button there that's to the golden party badge. and that was given out by hitler to his closest entourage, and he was a check chemist, and he became very friendly with general lukes, and the two men exchanged christmas cards for many years, which are also in the military institute in pennsylvania. just to give you an idea how close schieber was to the top, these are photographs that the archive does not let one reprints but i'm happy to show them here. there's schieber with spear, and there he is, shaking hands with
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hitler. so those general lukes' diary, and i'm going to end here with just at bit about reporting a story which i think is interesting, i hope. about bringing new information to the table, because so much of this has been gradually written about in bits and pieces over the years-but when you come across something like these diaries, it's really incredible to me because i really do believe in the idea that more always gets revealed, and curiosity helps the journalist, and if you look and look and you're willing to keep looking, you will find, and these are lukes' journals, and here's the incredibly classified program so classified it's still classified, and yet you have general lukes, you know, that human in all of us that sort of wants to write in our journal, attended conference with dr. walter schieber, classified matters, and it was from this
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kind of information, and it is from this kind of information, that i am usually able to piece together most interesting part of my stories, because at a journalist, once you have a bit of information you can good to the powers that be that are telling you, no, no, no, there is no information, and you can kick the noor -- kick the door in a built and fire freedom of information act requests based on facts that are known, and very importantly, dates, as you see in this journal. and from that i was able to locate this document which is pretty much the highest ranking war criminal that worked with hitler's nerve agent program and that was a list of people that general lukes would have at his home on saturday afternoons as a roundtable discussion, and they would learn the secrets of the sarin gas program which was
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bright back to america and allowed the united states to build up its sarin gas program and if anyone has been reading about syria's chemical weapons programs today, know the ones being dismantled now are sarin gas weapons. so this is a long legacy. i was also able to work with some of the children of hitler's inner circle by interviewing them in berlin. very brave individuals who, as they are getting older, 70ness and 80s, some of them were remarkably transparent with me and shared their parents' personal papers, and that really allowed me to bring some interesting things to the table that i don't think have been reported before, and also some photographs. this is schieber, and by 1952, he was working for the cia.
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some of the war criminals were sent to prison. this is landsberg prison where they went. some of them were hung. those are the unmarked graves. they were able to pray in this lovely church. but ultimately the cold war was getting hot, and john mccloy, here with truman, became u.s. high commissioner of germany, and he gave clemency to the majority of the war criminals who were in landberg christian and they were released. -- landsberg prison and they were released and. and this is otto ambrose, at nuremberg. he was convicted of mass murder and slavery. might have had some forsythe which is why he was laughing that he would one day soon be
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released, but not only was he released, his finances were fully restored. this is the world's -- what i would call the cia's first black site, right after the war. the cia -- well, actually in 1947, after the cia began, teamed up with and a half intelligence, army intelligence, and air force intelligence, at this place, and used some chemists and chemistry developed by the nazis and began enhanced interrogation techniques using lsd and street drugs on what was now soviet bloc prisoners because this was the cold war. the two physicians at that facility, none other than dr. schreiber and dr. blome. the reason that blome got the job was because schreiber was sent to texas. and schieber wke

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